The former co-owner and manager of the Odyssey nightclub says his decision to leave the club has nothing to do with the private investigation he funded into a competing queer party five months ago.
“The Odyssey has recently transitioned to a new ownership structure,” reads a notice posted to the club’s Facebook page on March 25, 2016. “As part of our restructuring, Bijan Ahmadian is moving on to pursue new opportunities.”
Just four months after reopening the Odyssey in its new location in July 2016, Ahmadian made headlines when he sent private investigators to a party hosted by Vancouver’s Art and Leisure Society, then released the report to The Province, including secretly shot video footage of people allegedly having sex in a queer space.
At the time Ahmadian said he commissioned the investigation over concerns of alleged over-crowding and over-serving of alcohol at the rival party.
Now, he says, he’s ready to pursue new interests.
“The Odyssey was definitely one of the most rewarding challenges I’ve undertaken,” Ahmadian tells Daily Xtra.
“I’ve met great people in the community that I got to work with, and I’m grateful to everyone who helped with the efforts of rebuilding and relaunching. It was definitely a team effort and I’m very proud of what we have accomplished and I know that it will continue to be an iconic establishment in the city.”
Asked if he thinks the Odyssey can regain the trust of community members who expressed outrage over the private investigation, Ahmadian says yes, but emphasizes that’s a question for the new managers.
The Odyssey’s Facebook announcement lists Sebastian Ankiel and Brandon Folkes as its new managers.
“We the management team, Sebastian [Ankiel] and Brandon Folkes, are excited for the future of The Odyssey and if you have any questions about the direction we will be going, feel free to contact us,” reads the notice.
Neither Ankiel nor Folkes responded to Daily Xtra’s requests for comment by posting time.
In February 2016, Ahmadian announced that he would be stepping back from the Odyssey and that he had hired Ankiel as general manager and Ethan Wilson as floor manager.
At the time, Ankiel declined to comment. “We’ve had enough of the drama,” he told Daily Xtra. “We want to go in a positive direction.”
He posted this mission statement to Facebook: “As an outstanding dance bar and performance venue, the Odyssey connects its patrons with one another through fun innovative programming delivered within a safe inclusive space that is operated sustainably by a team of genuine and welcoming staff and artists — all towards fostering an engaged community.”
For his part, Wilson said the Odyssey is a welcoming place for everyone, including those who are critical of the nightclub or its owner. “Everyone’s going to have their opinion of the space and the people who are involved and I totally respect that,” he told Daily Xtra in February. “People have their opinions on things and I super respect that but if they want to check it out themselves they can feel free to come down.”
Now, Wilson says, he no longer works at the Odyssey. He says it was his decision to leave, but offered no further details.
Ahmadian says he sold his shares in the company effective March 2016, but says the terms of the agreement, including the identity of the current owner or owners, are confidential.
According to a notice of change of directors in the Odyssey’s file at the BC corporate registry, Ahmadian ceased to be a director of Odyssey Endeavours Ltd on March 15, 2016. Rob King, the only other director listed on the document, did not respond to Daily Xtra’s request for comment by posting time.
Philanthropist Peter Allard, who financially supported the Odyssey’s relaunch, did not respond to Daily Xtra’s request for comment by posting time either.
Asked why the club is now open just two nights a week — on Thursdays and Saturdays — Ahmadian says that too is a question for the new managers.
Asked if he was fired, Ahmadian says no. He says it was his decision to leave.
“I can say that rebuilding and relaunching the Odyssey in a new location was a challenge, and now I want to pursue other interests,” he says.
“I have an engineering physics degree, I’m a lawyer and I have an MBA in marketing, and I am looking at embarking on this thrilling journey of thinking about how I can combine those and find a new project,” he says. “But first of all I’m going to go on vacation.”